Thursday, May 25, 2023

WILEY's New Lawn Tractor Hitch

20 May 23 Update:

The finished product. The hitch is very heavy steel with nice powder coating. There are 3 pins with cotter keys that can be set in 6 different holes, plus the hitch ball bar has its own hitch pin, offering several different ball heights. All we need to do now is measure the ball height of all 7 trailers and find out which holes would work best. There is also an attachment tab at the bottom for the garden cart.

Will this work on your mower? We know it works on a 2020 John Deere E130. The big question is can you reach up inside the mower frame with a wrench to tighten the brace arm brackets. Those brackets are important, they help distribute the tongue weight, which would otherwise easily bend the frame flange at the bottom. Our max tongue weight on our trailers is around 90 pounds. 

04 May 23:

Skipper got a new adjustable hitch for her John Deere E130 named WILEY. We tried a hitch on the front bumper for a bit but found that we preferred a rear hitch. The thin metal on the rear hitch would bend under a small boat trailer tongue load, so we found the ECOTRIC Heavy Duty Steel Adjustable Lawn Mower Trailer Towing Hitch on Amazon that seemed like it would work.

(Image: Amazon)

The hitch components are well made but showed up without assembly instructions. We figured it out though be referring to the photos on Amazon. Check your mower to make sure you can reach up inside the frame to tighten the hardware, there was plenty of clearance inside on WILEY's frame and all of the holes lined up.

Skipper tested out the hitch on the work dolly first, the hitch worked great!

Hitch Video:

We'll get a close up of the installed hitch as soon as I can get Skipper off of the tractor, she had to do some donuts on the driveway first. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Simple Kayak Rack

 14 May 23:

If you have posts, you can make a simple kayak rack with 2x4 lumber. Pressure treated is best, with a decorative ogee cut on the end. Fastened with exterior grade deck screws. 

Sunfish Sailfish Parts Wall - Daggerboards and Rudders

14 May 23:

Spent a little time in the HEUER GARAGE today, we needed to remove some extension cords from behind the pegboard wall. Mission complete. The little Sailfish WINNIE supervised. 

While we in the garage we made a video on the different versions of Sunfish and Sailfish rudders and daggerboards.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Railroad Museum of Virginia

 14 May 23:

It's not all boats for us, we took a trip over to Portsmouth VA to visit the Railroad Museum of Virginia. As best we can tell the Museum formed up around 2012 based on the efforts of a coalition of local State, City and Community leaders. Fast forward to 2023, post pandemic, and the status of the Museum is unclear at this time. We arrived on a day that the Museum was closed, but reports from other sources indicate the the Museum has not been open even on its advertised days of Friday and Saturday. The good news is that the gates were locked and the grounds are maintained, a few signs of activity, as opposed to our visit in 2022. 

We have reached out to Board member Paul Moody and hope to find out more about the Museum.

From the website:

Mission Statement: The mission of the Railroad Museum of Virginia, located at Court Street and Wythe Street, next to Olde Towne Portsmouth and the Path of History, is to collect and make available to the public for viewing, the exhibits and artifacts from the history of railroads and their people as a very important part of Virginia and America's history. The Museum will be used for the enjoyment and education of the people of Virginia of all ages

Funds were solicited at one time by the Railroad Museum in order to complete the interior restoration and to set up artifacts and exhibits for display in the railroad cars. The Railroad Museum has previously sought and received funds from the General Assembly of Virginia, Beazley Foundation, TowneBank, and others, and the City of Portsmouth has given the tracks and land on which the Museum is located, all of which has been very helpful. We are seeking to raise the additional funds needed for interior work, and other improvements.

Past: Almost 200 hundred years ago, Portsmouth was already establishing itself as a forerunner in railroading. The Portsmouth and Roanoke Railroad Company in 1832 established a railroad in Portsmouth which remained here under various ownerships and forms, operating, at one time, as Seaboard Railroad Company, It operated a large railroad business out of Portsmouth, including shops with numerous employees, and later Seaboard Railroad established its headquarters at the foot of High Street where some 500 or more employees worked. From horse drawn trains to the giants of today's railroading, there has been growth and improvement in the efficiency of the industry, The powers in Washington, DC and across the nation realized the potential and took a chance on investing their fortunes developing railroads, and in Virginia, this included Atlantic Coastline, Southern, Seaboard, Norfolk and Western, C&O, Norfolk Southern, CSX, Norfolk Portsmouth Beltline, and others, This tremendous growth did not just happen in Virginia, but spread throughout the country. It has been said that the power of railroad titans grew to the point they appeared to have as much influence on the Country as the Presidents. This is an illustrious history that has often been lost in. efforts to continue to grow without regard to the past. The Railroad Museum of Virginia was established to assure that this history is not forgotten. 

Present: Those who have been involved for a number of years in this ongoing effort and served on the Board of Directors, the Advisory Board, Honorary and Ex-Officio positions, have supported this effort and played a major part in bringing the Museum to this opening event. This will not be just a celebration, but also a recognition of the efforts and determination involved to complete this project successfully. Without your assistance and support, it could not have happened, this invitation recognizes that support and extends to you appreciation from the Railroad Museum of Virginia. 

Future: Among our exhibits you will find a collection of 25 photographs of locomotives that were collected and will be hung in the Museum, and just as other artifacts, will be rotated from time to time. We have collected railroad watches used by railroaders at a time when locomotive engineers were required to carry regularly tested time pieces to ensure their accuracy. In the Museum you will also see rail dog hand tools; Nolan buggy; whistle board and post; badges worn by railroad police; locomotive bell; several antique brakeman's lanterns; antique railroad locks; high switch target; rail handler;  track wrench; metal blue flag; tamping bars; cross bucks; switch stand; caboose stove; railroad spikes; timetables; antique oil can; spike prier bar; switch stand parts; rerailers; rail tongs; and many other interesting items of the past.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS Willard J. Moody, Sr., President C.Raeford Eure, Vice President Herman W. Bates, Secretary Kenneth R. Kwedar, Treasurer and Finance Director Donald N. Burnett James D. Curtin Jackie W. Dunn Edward C. Harris Mary Kelly Brian Mitchell Willard J Moody, Jr., Esquire Paul G. Moody, Esquire Richard M. Turner


Log of the Railroad Museum of Virginia

Any comments or information updates would be appreciated.


Kent and the crew

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Teardrop Scraper

13 May 23:

Skipper spotted this teardrop shaped scraper at our local Picker's Market, it had a tag on it that said "Shipwright's Tool." So of course we had to buy it, great marketing! 

The tool has seen some use but whoever owned it last left a nice edge on it. The shape of the blade will be handy for getting into remote corners and concave surfaces. Or maybe the dugout canoe if we can ever find a decent cedar log :)

Friday, May 12, 2023

1964 Alcort Sunfish ANNA 05 May 23 Gelcoat Restoration

 05 May 23:

ANNA's gelcoat is very oxidized. Red is one of hardest colors to bring back, but we'll give it a shot. We wet sanded a small spot with 1200 grit and then buffed with 3M Fiberglass Restorer and Wax, using our new DeWALT 20V 7" variable speed rotary polisher and a soft bonnet. The results were fair, the question is can we do the whole deck without sanding through the gelcoat?

Little Bench Varnish

 05 May 23:

We made a little bench out of cypress for the Granddaughter to go with her playhouse. Today was the day for a sealer coat of TotalBoat Gleam Gloss Marine Varnish. There are a few spots where we need to seal up cracks and knots with epoxy, to prevent water from collecting in those areas.


Moutain Laurel

 05 May 23:

Spotted some Mountain Laurel on the local trail today. Very pretty, we might see if we can get it to grow in our backyard park's shady area.

Nutshell Pram EXCUSE ME Spring Cleaning

 04 May 23:

We tried a little experiment of leaving EXCUSE ME outside for a few months without a cover, under the roof of the Sunfish Shack, during pollen season(s). As we might have expected, she was coated with a fair amount of dust and pollens, and picked up a few leaves. So she got a bath as well.

We sucked the bilge dry with our DeWALT 20V Wet/Dry vac, that is fun and quick, then dried off the interior with a shop towel. We also completed a round of TETRIS, EXCUSE ME is back in the Carriage House with ANNA and ST. JACQUES moved back out to the Sunfish Shack. The John Deere WILEY went into the garage, and bikes will soon follow. This opened up space in the Carriage House, which we like, as it is a pain to have to move 4 or 5 large items when we want to knock out a small project or reach the work bench.

CYANE Gets a Bath

 04 May 23:

Our 1971 O'Day Day Sailer II CYANE has been guarding the back porch for about a year as we get settled, so it was time to rinse of some dirt and pollen that had accumulated on the foredeck. We used a Greenworks electric pressure washer and a little bit of TILEX. Most of the grime came loose with just water, but the hull required a light wipe with a damp cloth before the final rinse. The mast and exposed lines got sprayed off as well.

Video link:

She scrubbed up real nice. We also pressure washed the patio and luckily I got CYANE rolled back into place before Skipper could do donuts on the concrete.

Coast Guard Steve Likes It

 04 May 23:

Our friend Steve is a retired Coastie and has spent most of his life on the water in small craft. With an engineering background and years of repairing small engines, he has a few go-to products that he uses all of the time.

Green Grease holds is a synthetic polymer grease that holds up well in the hostile marine environment. Steve tells us that it is the only true waterproof grease that he has worked with, he uses it to coat metal parts that are exposed to water and high heat. Also handy to coat trailer hitch components.

DAP Rapid Fuse is Steve's favorite all purpose adhesive. Also bonds skin, potentially handy in a first aid scenario. 

Squirrel Works Advanced Development Program

 04 May 23:

We are announcing the creation of the Small Boat Advanced Development Program (SBADP). Informally known as Squirrel Works, the SBADP team is responsible for new small boat design, highly classified R&D programs and exotic watercraft platforms. 

We have been given approval to formally declassify our punt SCUPPERS, a stealth, low-observable, littoral platform developed for small combat teams... 

The design team met this morning to put Bic 4 Color Retractable Pen to Mead Spiral Memo Book paper, sketching out concept and design criteria for a cute but lethal small boat, code name "FILLE."

(Not to scale, shape or sail plan)

That's all we can say for now, we could tell you more, but then we'd have to kill you, and we don't want to have to do that, too much work required. 

Stand by for more information...or not.


Skipper and Clark

Disclaimer: This program is in no way associated with Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works, and even if it was, and we're not saying it is, we couldn't tell you. 

Air Defense

 12 May 23:

We have found that this product comes in handy out in the boatyard to defend against air raids...

John Deere Donuts with Skipper and Sunfish Finishing Dolly

 06 May 23:

Skipper tested out the new lawn mower hitch, it passed the Functional Test Tow (FTT) by towing our finishing dolly from the back 40 up to the driveway. Skipper took off so fast that I didn't have time to get my camera out and get a video of her towing the dolly across our arched bridge! She's pretty proud of herself.

The 6 inch tires on the dolly travel easily across the yard, and we went with rigid tires when we ordered the castering wheels from Grizzly. 

ANNA found her way onto the finishing dolly, first the bow and then the stern. 

Skipper celebrated by doing donuts on the driveway, which had been freshly power washed...

Donut Dolly video:

These donuts were performed by a professional, don't try this at home. Lessons are available.

Trailer Tips

12 May 23:

Small boat trailers are hard to find and many times a trailer gets repurposed for use under many different boats. It is important to check a few things each year and before each trip to ensure a pleasant outing. Most importantly, we need to make sure that we don't overload a trailer and there are a few ways to check that. 

We start with axles, the load capacity for the axle should be on the VIN tag or registration paperwork. If axle capacity is unknown, a good trailer shop can figure it out. If any large rust spots are seen on box or tube axles, that should be checked out by a trailer expert, as most rust starts inside the frame and by the time we see it, there could be problems. 

Next we look at trailer tires, which need to be load rated to carry at least the weight of axle or more. It is not uncommon to look at a used trailer that has new tires, but the seller inadvertently (or knowingly) put underrated tires on the trailer. Trailer tires have important information on the sidewalls, including load range, inflation pressure and a manufacture date. One thing we do with our tires is run Load Range C or higher, because as Load Range increases, the number of sidewalls increase. With more sidewalls there is less sidewall flex, which means less heat as a tire bounces down the road. Higher load range tires can also be towed at higher speeds, many Load Range B tires are not rated for highway speeds.

Tires should be run at the indicated pressure, because underinflated tires heat up more due to sidewall flex, and heat causes premature failure. There is also a 4 digit manufacture date on the side of the tire that indicates week and year (WWYY) that the tire was manufactured. This tire is marked 4217, it was made the 42nd week of 2017. Trailer tires should be replaced NLT 6 years, because microfissures begin to form between the lugs that can't be seen. The tire above should be replaced in the late Fall. One more thing about tires is the wheel, wheels also have a weight limit, our trailer Pro Eddie showed us a wheel once that was fractured from carrying too much weight and air pressure.

Moving forward we check the hitch ball coupler, it must be rated for the total load (trailer + cargo). The receiver on the tow vehicle must also be rated to tow the load, as well as the draw bar, hitch ball and even the receiver draw bar pin and safety chains.

Trailer Tips video:

Check the air pressure before hitting the road, and don't forget the spare!

Safe travels,

Clark and Skipper